Underlying Conditions and Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction is not just a part of the aging process, nor is it normal for a man to lose his erectile function as a result of getting older. In most cases, ED is caused by an underlying medical condition that should be addressed by a physician. Diseases and conditions that cause ED include:

  • Diabetes - Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves and blood vessels that control the flow of blood to the penis. This nerve and artery damage can make it difficult to achieve an erection.
  • Vascular diseases - Vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol, can affect the blood vessels by restricting blood flow to the heart, brain, and to the penis, in the case of ED.
  • Neurological diseases and spinal cord injuries - Many neurological diseases such as stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease as well as spinal cord injuries can all cause ED in men because of the interruption of nerve impulses from reaching the penis.
  • Surgery or Trauma - Surgeries for the treatment of diseases in the prostate, bladder, colon or rectal areas can damage nerves and result in ED. Many men who undergo radical prostatectomy, for example, often experience some degree of ED after surgery.
  • Low testosterone - Imbalances of hormones such as low testosterone can also be a factor in  ED. A deficiency in testosterone can cause low libido and low energy which can result in erectile dysfunction.  While improving low testosterone doesn't cure ED, it does positively affect a man's sex drive, which results in improved erections. Low testosterone is also associated with diabetes and obesity, health conditions that can cause ED. 
  • Medications - Some medications, including those used to treat high blood pressure, can interfere with the blood flow to the penis.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Sleep apnea, a condition where breathing stops for several seconds over the course of an entire night, can also lead to erectile dysfunction due to restricted oxygen flow to the penis.


In addition to physical conditions that can cause ED, there are a number of psychological causes that should be taken into consideration and addressed with your physician, including:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Loss of interest in sex

 

Other risk factors that can lead to erectile dysfunction include:

  • Excessive drinking or alcoholism
  • Smoking, which can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Use of illicit and illegal drugs
  • Uncontrolled or undiagnosed chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, cardiovascular diseases, prostate cancer, etc.